As it stands right now, Stanford’s Andrew Luck will be the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. Luck is a future franchise quarterback and essentially has everything a team looks for in a signal-caller. In fact, according to Todd McShay, Luck will get Scouts Inc.’s highest grade for a quarterback since Matt Ryan in 2008.
So after Luck, who will be the next quarterback to come off the board?
The conventional wisdom would place juniors Ryan Mallett, Cameron Newton and senior Jake Locker in the mix. But a dark horse emerging into the mix is Missouri junior Blaine Gabbert. In fact, as of right now, Gabbert has a higher Scouts Inc. grade than the other three.
Gabbert is currently rated as a 93, while Locker comes in at 92, and Newton and Mallett both have grades of 90.
So just who is this mystery man leading Missouri and making McShay drool? Well he’s 6’5, 235 pounds, and had a quarterback rating of 126.0 this season. That ranked him 73rd in the nation.
His numbers looked like this: 260-of-418 (62.2 percent), 2,752 yards, 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Those don’t exactly jump off the page, but for some reason Gabbert has captured the imaginations of scouts everywhere. The reason is probably because of the intangibles. Gabbert was a first-team Academic All-Big 12 selection in 2009, and is apparently a big-time vocal leader.
He rates as “above average” under Production, Height-Weight-Speed, Durability, Toughness/Leadership, Accuracy, Release/Arm Strength and Pocket Mobility. He rates as “average” under Intelligence/Decision Making largely due to forcing throws and the fact that he comes from a spread system.
For my money, guys need to produce for me to believe they can play at the next level. It certainly isn’t the only important factor, but if you don’t do things on the field, I don’t care how big you are or how far you can chuck the ball.
Apparently that doesn’t matter to Scouts Inc. though, as Gabbert rates higher than both Mallett and Newton, who each had better seasons than him.
We all know about Newton’s ridiculous statistical season, but it’s understandable that some scouts aren’t blown away by him. He’s a different type of quarterback, and his game may not translate to the pros.
As for Mallett, the 6’6, 238-pound junior from Arkansas, he would seem to be the other conventional choice. Mallett finished the season with a quarterback rating of 170.5, which put him third in the nation. He completed 242-of-364 passes (66.5 percent) for 3,592 yards, with 30 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
Mallett has done it on the field, while Gabbert and Locker haven’t.
It will be interesting to see who executives fall in love with over the next few months, especially with several teams in desperate need of a quarterback.